Case study: Pickups and the professor

Howard Zehr, photographer and pioneering professor, tackles a book project with Photo Ninja

Professor Howard Zehr of Eastern Mennonite University is known as the grandfather of restorative justice, an approach to crime that emphasizes redress and rehabilition over punishment. He is also a serious photographer, having worked professionally in photojournalism, on assignments in two dozen countries, and with numerous exhibits of his work.

For Zehr, photography is an effective tool for drawing attention to the restorative justice perspective. He has authored a series of documentary photo-essay books that rely on portraiture to reflect on crime victims, prisoners serving life sentences without parole, and the children of prison inmates.

It's weighty stuff, and Zehr decided to try something more light-hearted for a change: “I needed a break after the previous heavy subjects,” he says, “so I decided to document Virginians and their pickup trucks. It's great fun.” The book, titled Pickups: A Love Story, was published by Good Books in May 2013.

Five hundred files and Photo Ninja

Zehr faced a postprocessing task that many working photographers can appreciate: Almost five hundred RAW files needed to be converted and prepared. Productivity was a concern, and image quality had to meet high standards. When he heard about the Photo Ninja beta test, he inquired about joining.

Two days after starting with Photo Ninja, Zehr reported back to us:  “This is pretty breathtaking. I wasn't looking forward to the conversion process, much less learning a new RAW developer. In fact, Photo Ninja had a short learning curve and sped things up considerably. It's amazing how dead-on it gets the images, and adjustments are simple and easy to do. The portrait mode maintains the skin tones wonderfully.”

Professor Zehr's book, Pickups: A Love Story, is available at Amazon.  His blog on restorative justice is located here, and his photography website is here.

Randy Green, one of the pickup owners profiled in Zehr's upcoming book. This 1949 GMC pickup originally belonged to Green's grandfather, who reportedly kept a calendar that omitted his wedding anniversary but clearly noted the delivery date for the pickup. The truck has been in the family for more than 60 years, and for Green it represents a strong, emotional tie to his grandfather.